"Blest are the sorrowing; they shall be consoled." (Mt. 5:4)
PREPARATION Every liturgical celebration is of the Pascal Mystery - Christ's passion, death and resurrection. Funeral Rites are a celebration of the Pascal Mystery and prayer and thanksgiving for the life which has now been returned to God. The Church understands that this is a difficult time for the loved ones of the deceased. Our parish will provide kind, knowledgeable ministers to assist you in the preparation of the Christian Funeral.
The first step when a loved one dies is to call a Funeral Home. They will coordinate and schedule with the family and the Church. Once the Funeral Home contacts the Parish Office a minister of the Church will contact the Family to prepare the Vigil, Mass and Committal liturgies. That person will explain the liturgies and help you chose scripture and sacred music as well.
A CELEBRATION IN THREE STATIONS The Christian Funeral is comprised of three ritual moments.
1. The Vigil is normally the first gathering of the community after the death of a Christian. At the Vigil the Christian community keeps watch with the family in prayer to the God of mercy and finds strength in Christ's presence. The active participation of all present helps them express their consolation, The family and friends pray together through scripture and song.
*The Vigil liturgy is an official Rite of the Church. While the Rosary is a beautiful and honored devotion, it can not replace the Liturgy of the Church. When many of the mourners are not Catholic, the Rosary can have the effect of excluding them. The Rosary may be recited after the liturgy by any who so desire. The Vigil is celebrated the evening prior to the Funeral Liturgy. As a liturgical Rite of its own, the Vigil Liturgy is not to be attached to or celebrated immediately before the Funeral Mass. Nor is the Rosary to be recited by all just prior to the funeral Liturgy.
2. The Funeral Mass is the principal liturgical celebration of the Church.
3. The Rite of Committal is the final ritual moment of the Church's Christian Funeral. "Whenever possible, the rite of committal is to be celebrated at the site of committal, that is, beside the open grave or place of internment, rather than at the cemetery chapel." (OCF, 204)
ROLE OF MUSIC As with any liturgical celebration, music is an integral part of all the funeral rites. "Music allows the community to express convictions and feelings that words alone may fail to convey. it has the power to console and uplift the mourners and to strengthen the unity of the assembly in faith and love. The texts of the songs chosen for a particular celebration should express the Paschal Mystery and should be related to the readings form Scriptures. The ministry provided by competent cantors, choirs, and instrumentalists can "assist the assembly in full participation in singing the songs, responses, and acclamation" of the funeral rites. (OCF 32) Even if the immediate family of the deceased is not able to join in song, the singing of the assembly will help to console and strengthen them.
LITURGICAL ENVIRONMENT The liturgical seasons (Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Times) set the mood and the atmosphere for the church decor. "The funeral rites should be celebrated in an atmosphere of simple beauty, in a setting that encourages participation." (OCF 24) Liturgical symbols and signs such as the Easter candle, holy water, incense, and the pall placed over the coffin in church all affirm our Christian belief and hope in the Paschal Mystery. Fresh flowers, used in moderation, can enhance the setting of the funeral rites. Only Christian symbols may rest on or be placed near the coffin during the funeral rites.
"I AM the RESURRECTION and the LIFE. All who believe in ME shall have ETERNAL LIFE." John 11:25-26